The Supernatural Beauty of the Human Soul

Mystical Marriage of St Catherine of Siena by Barna da Siena

Father Cassilly explains how God beautifies the human soul that He elevates to share in His nature.

He remarks: “We can all appreciate material beauty. It reveals itself in the verdure of hill and plain, in the long roll of the ocean wave, in the rainbow, in the transforming hues of the sunset, in the graceful flight of the bird and the comely features of youth. But a higher form of beauty adorns spiritual things.”

“The intellectual soul, says the Jesuit theologian Lessius, is of such wondrous beauty and perfection that were it known as it is in itself it would seem a kind of divinity, and the contemplation of it would fill the mind with incredible pleasure. Marvellous as is the natural beauty of the soul, how shall we describe its supernatural loveliness which it has by divine grace. God is the fountain-head of beauty, and like to Him is the sanctified soul. . . . The fragrance of its virtues ravishes all hearts. Even in this life, God has often been pleased to let the heavenly perfume of virtue escape to the bodies of His saints, and fill the room or house in which they lived, and scent whatever they touched.”

“Listen to Solomon’s Canticle, that divine love-song wherein God sings to the soul, His beloved, ‘the extravagances of His love.’ ‘I sleep, and my heart watcheth; the voice of my beloved knocking: Open to me, my sister, my love, my undefiled.’ And the soul, the spouse of God, responds to His whispers of affection: ‘I opened the bolt of my door to my Beloved; but He had turned aside, and was gone. . . . I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved that you tell him I languish with love.'” (Cant 5:2, 6, 8)

“Now, Christian soul, see to what heights of love you are called. God is Love, and you, too, are partaker of His nature. God is your Divine Lover, and like all lovers, knows no measure in His affection and gifts. In this life the veils are drawn, but in the world to come you will see your Beloved face to face. You are now the dearest child of God, what you shall be doth not now appear; but you know that when He shall come you shall be like to Him, for you shall see Him as he is.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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